5 Tips for Stretching Your College Cash

by A Guest Author

Whether you have a college fund or not, the reality is that money becomes a serious concern when you begin to look at attending a college or university. Many institutions are expensive. Rates continue to rise, and student loan interest plagues many for years after the degree has been earned. Financing your education depends on creative searches for funds. It also depends on your ability to conserve and stretch your college cash.

Choosing a Campus

Choosing a college or university is one of the costliest decisions you will make. Top names come at a big price, and few families have the means to support the costs associated with private schools. Scholarships may stretch the funds, but if there isn’t enough money available in financial aid, you may need to set your sights a bit lower. State universities are often much more economical, and if you attend a university in your area, you can save yourself the price of room and board. Community colleges make even more sense, providing very affordable rates in comparison with four year universities. Taking core classes at a junior college or community college provides the opportunity to save significantly. A later transfer into a four year institution will have less of a blow if you’ve limited your need for loans by using this inexpensive route to complete basic classes.

Housing Options

Attending an institution away from home presents expenses that aren’t required of students living at home while going to school. Rooms can cost as much as tuition in some locations. Finding ways to cut these costs is important in stretching your college cash. Many universities provide budget dorms, residence halls with smaller facilities and lesser rates. Some universities provide the choice of living with a roommate or having a private room. A private room will drain your bankroll quickly. Finding a job in the residential life department can provide a room and a meal plan free of charge. You will earn your room and board by serving as an overseer of a floor or wing of a residence hall, a wonderful way to gain valuable management experience and to cut your overall costs nearly in half.

Living off campus is another attractive way to limit your costs and stretch your funds. Sharing a house with several roommates can significantly decrease your housing costs. The same is true if you find a roommate to rent an apartment with you. Many families in university towns will rent a room to a college student at much cheaper rates than the cost of a dormitory room. Of course, if you attend a school in a town where family members live, you may be able to completely eliminate the need to pay rent. Any of these alternatives can lead to a savings.

Meals and Meal Plans

Food is another important cost to contend with when you attend a college or university away from home. Your first year may be the most costly, especially if your institution requires that freshmen living on campus select a meal plan. Selecting the cheapest meal plan and using a fridge and microwave in your room may allow you to limit food costs. Suite style dorms with full kitchens can provide a complete savings on meal plans. You must still learn to be careful in spending on food. Fast food becomes a rare treat and cheap meals become the norm. Follow blogs that provide cheap meal ideas. Learn to cook from scratch, as pre-packaged meals and foods can be expensive.


If you live on campus, a bicycle is an excellent source of on-campus transportation. Use campus shuttles if needed. For off-campus activities, coordinate with friends that have a vehicle. As long as you can get by without a vehicle you will save the costs of gasoline and insurance. If a vehicle is a must, opt for an economy car.

Creative Income Options

Sometimes the best way to stretch your college cash is to find a source of extra cash. Academic options may include tutoring local high school and middle school students. On campus tutoring is often a paying job. Joining an online revenue share site or content creation site can provide an academic source of income. Some students learn to style hair or sew specialty clothing items in order to earn extra money. Make yourself available in the community as a babysitter or house sitter. There are many ways to be creative in order to earn extra money that will stretch your budget.

About The Author:

Marley Baker is a business executive and guest author at TopCollegesOnline.org, where she contributed a list of the most affordable colleges for online masters degrees. Click here to view the list.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by espensorvik

This post was written by A Guest Author

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